Government Head of Communications Kurt Farrugia has slammed the Nationalist Party for criticising the €5 million donation to charitable organisation ‘Puttinu Cares’ from the Individual Investment Programme (IIP) proceeds by stressing that the PN had opted to retain the scheme in its electoral manifesto.
On Friday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the money would be derived from the IIP proceeds which go to the National Social and Development Fund, a move that was welcomed by Labour supporters but was deemed as a provocation from the PN, given that the IIP had led to so much political turmoil.
Last week, a Good Friday fund raising marathon for Puttinu Cares on Xarabank was held. Government pledged to give €5 million to Puttinu Cares, while the public raised €1.6 million.
Puttinu Cares wants to build 30 apartments in London for patients and their families who need treatment in the UK.
Muscat spoke of the need for such flats for patients who require more specialised care. He added that it benefits the country to have accommodation for cancer patients in central London.
The Malta Independent contacted the Office of the Prime Minister, asking it about concerns that PN supporters relayed after the announcement that the donation would be originating from IIP funds.
Asked about whether this could be construed as a way to indirectly soften critics of the IIP scheme, Farrugia said: “I prefer to listen to the people that go through these experiences. The use of these funds are for something which is intrinsically good. No amount of shrilling can change that fact.
“Should we not help Puttinu get accommodation in London?
“The argument being made does not hold. The PN, in its electoral manifesto, said it would not stop the IIP scheme. How would it have used the funds coming through the programme?
“What matters is that through these funds, we will make the life of people suffering from cancer a little easier. That is what matters.
“Whoever is going through this experience [battling cancer], and those volunteering and helping people who are suffering, they are seeing that there is a just cause being helped. I prefer listening to those who are genuinely affected.
“Now we can’t use the fund for cancer patients, or for social development? What are we going to do, leave the money parked?”
Confusion over Finance Ministry social media post
In the midst of the controversy that emerged, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna took to social media to say that the donation would be coming from the national budget and not from the IIP proceeds which go to the National Social and Development Fund.
Farrugia explained that when it became known that Puttinu Cares needed €5 million for the building of accommodation in central London for cancer patients, and internal discussion within OPM took place.
OPM then approached the finance ministry, to inform them of the situation. After the Finance Ministry had its own internal discussions, it saw that the national budget could afford to foot the €5 million donation.
He continued to say that, at the same time, OPM also informed the NSDF of the situation. The board which administered the funds discussed internally and concluded that the proposal falls within the remit of the fund and that it would allocate the money.
The NSDF then informed the Prime Minister of its decision, at which point he made the announcement to the public.
Farrugia added that parallel discussions must have contributed towards the confusion.
Original article found on The Malta Independent